What is a menstrual disc?
A menstrual disc is a contemporary type of period protection that has a distinctive shape. Rather than absorb blood like a tampon, it is meant to collect blood within the body. Because it's devoid of bleach, pesticides, and chemicals intended to promote absorption, it's a far better way to protect yourself during your period.
How do they work?
Unlike period cups, which sit in the vaginal canal using suction, discs sit at the base of the cervix using gravity, and this happens because they're nestled under the pelvic bone. Once it’s placed, it sits at the mouth of the cervix, collecting the period blood as it flows through.
The bottom portion of the disc hangs like a sack, which is where the blood is collected. Because of its wide shape, it is designed to collect a lot of blood before you feel the need to empty it.
How is it different from a menstrual cup?
Menstrual cups and discs are both period items that collect menstrual fluid, but their designs and methods of operation are significantly different.
Size and shape
- Menstrual disc - These are roughly in the shape of a disc, which can expand to form a small sack to collect the period blood inside. They are much wider than a menstrual cup but have less depth.
- Menstrual cup - These are shaped like bells or cups, and even though they’re bigger than a tampon, menstrual cups are still pretty small.
- Menstrual disc - Silicone or a mix of body-friendly polymers of plastic and resins are used to make menstrual discs, where medical-grade polymers are FDA-approved materials that may be found in a variety of medical equipment, including surgical instruments.
- Menstrual cup - Although some companies employ various materials, like rubber or latex, most menstrual cups are constructed of medical-grade silicone.
- Menstrual disc - You pinch a menstrual disc in half to make it roughly the same size as a tampon before inserting it. Then, using two clean fingers, put it into the vagina, then press it down and back into the vaginal fornix with a single finger. Use the same finger to place the front-facing side of the rim up and back, tucking it under your pubic bone, until it's as far back as possible.
- Menstrual cup - Rather than pinching, the initial step in inserting a menstrual cup is folding, and once done, insert the folded cup into your vaginal canal with clean fingertips once you've perfected your fold. Use a single finger to confirm the cup has popped up correctly as soon as it's in a comfortable position far enough up your vaginal canal.
- Menstrual disc - A menstrual disc is located at the base of your cervix, in the vaginal fornix. Because this is the broadest section of your vaginal canal, the disc seems to be broader than a cup.
- Menstrual cup - Menstrual cups sit in the vaginal canal, which is the smaller, lower section of your vagina.
- Menstrual disc - Because the muscular vaginal walls and the pubic bone work together to maintain the menstrual disc up within the vaginal fornix, it stays in place. The fornix is the broadest region of your vagina and surrounds your cervix at the end of the vaginal canal.
- Menstrual cup - Suction and a little support from the vaginal muscles help a menstrual cup stay in place. The sides of the cup establish a seal against the vaginal walls as it bursts up in the vaginal canal, preventing leaks and holding the cup in place.
- Menstrual disc - It’s possible to get freaky while wearing a disc. Because a menstrual disc does not restrict the vaginal canal, you can have mess-free, penetrative period sex while wearing it. Because the disc is located in the vaginal fornix, which is broader than the vaginal canal, neither you nor your spouse will feel it.
- Menstrual cup - Because the cup is positioned inside the vaginal canal, nothing else can enter, and, as a result, you must remove your menstrual cup before engaging in penetrative intercourse.
Disposable vs reusable menstrual discs
There are both disposable and reusable discs on the market. A disposable menstrual disc should be thrown out after one use, while you can wash and use a reusable one again for some years.
A reusable menstrual disc is a more sustainable option as you’re contributing to less landfill during your menstruating years. You should never attempt to reuse a disposable disc as you will increase your chances of infection.
How do you insert a menstrual disc?
- Wash your hands - Before attempting insertion, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water so that you don’t risk introducing germs inside your vaginal canal.
- Sterilize or clean the disc - At the start of your cycle, it’s best to steam or set it in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes. Mid-cyle, you can continue using a dedicated cup or disc wash like the Carmesi Menstrual Cup Wash to keep it clean.
- Find a comfortable position - Either squat on the toilet floor or sit on the toilet. You can also stand with one leg hoisted on the commode. Go for whichever works the best for you before attempting insertion.
- Squeeze the disc - Squeeze the disc from the sides, making it as narrow as possible.
- Insert - Insert the pinched disc pointing down and back into your vagina and sit at a vertical angle so it completely covers your cervix.
- Push it far - Push the menstrual disc past the pubic bone as much as you can so you can tuck the rim merely above the bone.
What about removal?
- Wash your hands - For the same reason as above, washing your hands is the most essential first step.
- Get comfortable - Get into the same position you used while inserting the menstrual disc. This will make removal an easy and comfortable experience.
- Reach inside - Hook your index finger under the rim of the disc as you reach far into the vagina, giving it a pull towards you.
- Empty it - Empty the contents of the disc into the toilet or sink and wash it before you reinsert it again.
How long can you keep the disc inside?
Menstrual discs can be worn for up to 12 hours, however, depending on your flow, you may need to replace them more frequently.
Is it true you can have sex while wearing one?
Mess-free period sex is one of the period disc's key advantages over its competitors, as it provides an alternative to trashing all of your white bath towels, whether you want to go alone or have coupled sex.
Penetrative period sex is feasible while wearing the period disc since it is placed past the vaginal canal. A really deep or vigorous romp session, on the other hand, might cause it to move and eventually leak.
What happens to it when you pee?
When you sit down and pee, the disc might move and spill its contents into the toilet as a result of the posture and effort from sitting to pee.
It may appear like the disc is leaking, but it is not. When you're finished, it generally jumps back into place, or you can just tilt the disc back up with your finger.
Are they any good if you have heavy flow?
A heavy period is defined as needing to change your pad or tampon in less than 2 hours or passing quarter-sized or bigger clots, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Menstrual discs can withstand a strong flow, but you'll need to change them more frequently during the day. Menstrual discs carry the equivalent of 5 to 6 teaspoons of fluid, depending on the manufacturer. In addition, a total of about 4 to 12 tablespoons of blood is lost over the course of a monthly period.
Can you wear one if you have an IUD inside?
Because an IUD is placed in the uterus and a menstrual disc or cup is placed in the vaginal canal, you can utilise both with an Intrauterine Device.
Even though a few cases of IUD expulsion have been linked to menstrual cup use, there isn't enough evidence to suggest that wearing a menstrual cup or disc increases the chance of your IUD being dislodged.
What about workouts?
For any strenuous activity, a period disc is an excellent choice. You may go for a run, do yoga or pilates, or even finish a mountain trek while wearing a disc.
Furthermore, being able to swim throughout your period is a significant benefit provided by the menstrual disc. You don't have to be concerned about leaking during any exercise, regardless of how vigorous it is.
Are period discs really capable of reducing cramps?
While many reviews say that period discs help with period pain, there isn't enough proof to support this claim. Contractions in the uterus create cramps, and, thus, the position of the period disc shouldn't make a difference in your period pain.
Anything you should be concerned about?
While a potentially safe and convenient period product, there are a few concerns that may bother you:
- Leaks - Leaks can occur if your cup or disc is out of place or if you haven't emptied it once it has become full.
- Allergies - Most cups and discs are made of body-safe materials, but check the manufacturer's label for any potential allergic responses. If you're unsure, you should always check your doctor before doing anything.
- The learning curve - Learning to use the period cup might be challenging or simple, depending on your comfort level with intrusive period items. Nonetheless, there is a steeper learning curve than with pads or tampons.
- Infections - In order to avoid infections, proper disc hygiene is essential, and research shows that cups and discs have no effect on your natural vaginal flora. Menstrual discs, on the other hand, are located in the same region as diaphragms, which are known to put patients at risk for urinary tract infections.
- Toxic shock syndrome - Despite the fact that a few people have linked TSS to the usage of cups and discs, current research shows no clear link between the two. When using cups or discs, the danger of TSS is quite minimal, unlike tampons, but it's always better to never keep it inside for more than 12 hours.
- Pain - If you experience pain while using your device, it's possible that your cup or disc is out of alignment. If you're a newbie, you may be apprehensive and clench your pelvic muscles, which might make insertions or removals unpleasant. Squatting or resting one foot on the toilet are two postures to try, and, alternatively, during your first few periods, use a water-based lubricant with a cup or disc.
If you’re looking for something that feels like nothing, is slightly different than a menstrual cup, great for penetrative sex, and handles heavy flows well, consider giving menstrual discs a try and you may just be pleasantly surprised. However, it’s always best to practise safety measures so you don’t put yourself at risk of infection.